SINGAPORE - Three men from China allegedly stole a Japanese tourist's credit card and tried to use it to buy a branded watch at a Paragon boutique last Saturday (Aug 6), a court heard.
When the transaction could not go through, they promptly left the shop.
But the trio were nabbed before they could leave the country - police arrested them at Changi Airport in a four hour-long sting on Monday.
Among the $29,000 worth of items seized from them were a range of foreign currencies, wallets, belts, bags, watches and perfume.
Police believe the men are part of a pick-pocketing syndicate, which had targeted tourists and used stolen credit cards to buy various luxury goods.
On Wednesday (Aug 10), Zheng Ding Wen, 48, Li Aibin, 50, and Zhang Xiaobao, 53, were charged with taking part in a conspiracy to cheat.
They are accused of presenting a credit card that did not belong to them for the payment of an Omega watch at Watches of Switzerland at about 11am last Saturday.
As a result, a shop staff was deceived into giving them the watch.
It is not known if the men had left the shop with the watch after the card payment was unsuccessful due to a system error, or if they had returned it. The cost of the watch was not stated in their charge sheets.
According to police, a sales assistant had found their behaviour suspicious and made a report.
The staff had heard the trio talking in Mandarin with a strong Chinese accent, said the police in a statement on Tuesday.
Officers traced the card to a Japanese tourist, who only realised his wallet was missing when contacted. He made a police report.
Officers from the police's Central Division and Commercial Affairs Department conducted ground enquiries and surveillance between Saturday and Monday. The trio were then arrested at the airport between 11.45am and 1.50pm.
It is not known how many tourists Zheng, Li and Zhang had cheated, where they pickpocketed their victims, or how long they committed their crimes.
The case will be mentioned again next Wednesday.
The maximum punishment for cheating is 10 years' jail and a fine.